The Gouguenheim

101 West Main Street

Every Building Has a Story

Elegant is one of the many words used to describe the large Italianate style building. We know the Gouguenheim as a unique banquet hall on the lower floor with four suites located on the upper floor. This building was not always a banquet hall; neither did it always look as it does today. The building was built in 1893 or 1894 and was originally used as the Washington Ballroom. Similar to today’s purpose, it was used for meetings, wedding receptions, etc. In the year 1899, there was a fire that damaged most of downtown New Iberia. Due to the metal roof and stucco walls, the building helped stop the fire from continuing to travel westward.

In 1906 Charles Gouguenheim bought the building and transformed it into a store. While the first floor was used as a store, the top floor was the Elks Lodge. The store closed in 1917, and William O. Hugumin bought the building. In 1933, Morgan and Lindsey five and dime store opened on both floors of the Gouguenheim. Sidney Robichaux received the building in 1947 and donated it to Francis Robichaux in the year 1973. Jerry Huck and his wife Norma attained the building from Francis Robichaux in 1975. Herman Guesser, Jr., and his wife Faye purchased the building in July of the same year. The last sale was to Christopher Jordan, the current owner of the Gouguenheim, in the year 2000. He made renovations to the building and restored its original design. It became the beautiful Gouguenheim that we know of it today.

If Walls and Windows Could Talk

Formally the Elks Lodge in the early 1900s, the two-story building has several characteristics of the Italianate style. One of its most obvious details is the beautiful cast iron balcony and columns that wrap around the building in an L-shape. The building lost its gallery in the 1940s or early 1950s. Later, when Chris Jordan wanted to restore the balcony, he found out that New Iberia had passed an ordinance stating that balconies were no longer allowed. He lobbied and successfully and had the ordinance revoked. All balconies on Main Street today came about after the revocation of the ordinance.

This historic bulding includes segmental-headed windows with hood moldings, a distinguishing factor of the architectural Italianate style. These windows are commonly found in pairs. The building is framed with brick, and a thick coating of stucco is found on top.  Beneath the central pediment at the roof-line are two small arched windows.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

(Photos courtesy of the Gouguenheim’s Web site)

The Gouguenheim as Elk’s Lodge

Present Day Building

Interior Views

Voices from the Past and Present

On April 23 2012, Patty Williams, manager of the Gouguenheim, was interviewed on some of the facts of the historical building. Although she did not give us much detail, her information was very helpful. The Gouguenheim has been owned for ten years by a local citizen of New Iberia, Chris Jordan. The building was described as two stories with a banquet hall and a bed and breakfast. Ms. Williams has no childhood memories regarding The Gouguenheim and she described her business as “very successful.” She is only associated with the building through her management. A typical evening at a Gouguenheim event was described as wedding receptions and parties.

References

The Gouguenheim: Resort to Good Taste. n.d. Web. 24 Apr 2012.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 1198, Folio 772, Entry 05795. 12 May 2000. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 1149, Folio 64, Entry 97-10891. 24 December 1997. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 663, Folio 746, Entry 75-4082. 28 July 1975. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 629, Folio 738, Entry 75-2497. 25 April 1975. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 590, Folio 847, Entry 160289. 24 January 1973. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 176, Folio 280, Entry 72785. 25 October 1947. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 122, Folio 601, Entry 49961. 10 September 1936. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 89, Folio 236, Entry 33588. 6 May 1919. Print.

Iberia Parish. Conveyance. Book 60, Folio 93, Entry 18654. 23 June 1906. Print.

St. Upery, Alaina. The Gouguenheim. 2012. Photographs. Private Collection.